There is something special about summer in Iowa City. Throw your lawn chairs in the trunk, grab the sunblock, and enjoy a jam-packed season of festivals, farmers’ markets, and food. There are just too many events to include them all, but this guide will get you started.
Friday Night Concert Series (May 17-August 30) – Bring your lawn chairs and enjoy FREE live entertainment. We return this year to the intimate stage (and shade) of the Ped Mall.
Family Fun Nights at Hancher (June 6, 13, 20, 27) – In June, Thursday Nights at Hancher become Family Fun Nights! These free events celebrating the arts will feature music, the written word, visual arts and dance.
Film Scene Picture Show (June 6-July 28) – The Picture Show family and children’s series features the best in all ages programming. Tickets are FREE for children when accompanied by a $5 adult moviegoer.
Free Movie Series (June 8-August 24) – Bring your lawn chairs or blankets and enjoy a full-length movie on the University of Iowa Pentacrest outside of Macbride Hall. Movies start at sundown each Saturday.
Party in the Park – Connect with neighbors this summer at the FREE Party in the Park events with live music, games, arts and crafts, frozen treats, and the Iowa City Public Library Bookmobile!
Kernels Baseball – Have some baseball fun and support our very own Cedar Rapids Kernels.
Baby Animal Festival (May 25-June 2) – Bloomsbury Farm hosts this first annual event with baby animals, hayrack rides, corn palace, giant slides, and more.
Iowa Renaissance Festival (May 25-27 and June 1-2) – Now in its 28th year, the Iowa Renaissance Festival is two weekends of live entertainment featuring comedy, swordplay, music, magic, and even horseback jousting. Explore a marketplace and enjoy tasty treats and drinks in the royal food court.
Iowa Mennonite Relief Sale (May 31-June 1) – Now in its 40th year, the Iowa Mennonite Relief Sale includes auctions, farmer’s market, entertainment, children’s activities, meals, food specialties, and a 5K trail run..
Iowa Arts Festival (May 31-June 2) – The Iowa Arts Festival is a weekend-long, free, community celebration featuring over 110 local and national visual artists, music performances, food vendors serving regional and ethnic dishes, and creative and educational activities and entertainment for children.
Chocolate Stroll (June 1) – Join Mount Vernon to celebrate all things chocolate! Find chocolate treats from a variety of vendors intertwined with local businesses for easy shopping while enjoying live music. There’s also a children’s area with lots of activities.
Big Grove Field Day (June 1) – Grab some friends and celebrate the start of summer with old school field day activities. Activities include tug-o-war, a team plank walk, a sponge relay, noodle javelin, and giant beer pong.
Gallery Walk (June 7) – This free event is open to everyone to take a self-guided tour of different shops, galleries, and other locations that have curated feature artists and pieces of art.
Iowa Free Fishing Weekend (June 7-9) – Mark your calendars now for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources’ annual free fishing weekend!
Free Fishing (June 8) – Come and spend your day enjoying the outdoors fishing with Take A Kid Outdoors! There will be live fish, experts from Scheels, food, and prize drawings. Bring a fishing pole if you have one. If not, some will be available.
Great Iowa River Race (June 8) – Canoers, kayakers, and paddleboarders are welcome to compete in this fun 9.25-mile race on the Iowa River!
Kids’ Day at the Coralville Farmers’ Market (June 10) – Enjoy balloon creations, fun games and activities with The Iowa Children’s Museum, live music, and more!
Firefly Night Hike (June 14) – Immerse yourself in the awe of our firefly-filled prairies and forests! This free family event includes a chance for families to catch and observe fireflies (tools provided) and an optional mile-long night hike through the forest.
Henry IV Part 1 (June 14-23) – The Iowa City tradition of Riverside Theatre producing free Shakespeare in City Park at the circular outdoor Festival Stage continues. Action, comedy, and history collide as Falstaff and King Henry vie for the destiny of Prince Hal, while the kingdom wards off an insurrection.
Pride Fest (June 15) – A parade, vendor fair, live music, and lots of rainbows will bring thousands to downtown Iowa City during the 49th Iowa City Pride Festival & Parade!
Wurst Festival (June 15) – The Amana Colonies is celebrating all things sausage as we eat, drink, and have the Wurst time you could possibly have.
Kalona Days (June 15) – Enjoy a day of fun-filled activities for the whole family with a parade, food, games, Fun Run, entertainment, red tag event, and more.
Freedom Festival (June 20-July 4) – The community of Cedar Rapids is showcased throughout the Freedom Festival with over 70 events taking place leading up to the grand finale on the 4th of July: the largest fireworks show in Iowa!
Free Community Meal (June 21) – All are invited to the Coralville Public Library to share a free meal and fun evening together. There will be live music and several family friendly activities.
Brake the Cycle of Homelessness (June 22) – Be a catalyst for change and join us for a 15-mile fun ride benefiting Shelter House at Terry Trueblood Recreation Area. The route includes optional stops at your favorite watering holes to relax and grab a drink.
Juneteenth Celebration (June 22) – Come out for the ninth annual Iowa City Area Juneteenth Commemoration, a celebration of freedom commemorating the abolition of slavery in the United States in 1865. This exciting event includes live performances by local musicians and artists, a health fair, food, vendors, games and activities for the whole family, and opportunities to win door prizes. The event is free and open to the public.
Playtime Poppy Summer Theatre Adventure presents Tales Beneath the Baobab Tree (June 22) – Join Playtime Poppy, the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library, and the African American Museum of Iowa as we explore tales and traditions from West Africa. The Summer Theatre Adventure is a free week long, immersive theatre experience for ages 7-14 to engage with theatre, culture, and community, and includes two performances at the end of the week that are free and open to the public.
Blooms + Butterflies (June 23) – The 3rd Annual No Foot Too Small Blooms + Butterflies will take place at Iowa City Landscaping & Garden Center! This event includes food, live music, face painting, balloon artists and a monarch butterfly release.
Downtown Block Party (June 22) – This all ages event includes live music, Sand Volleyball in the MIDDLE of a city street, Silent Disco, Alleyway Movie, Tug of War tournament and more.
Balloon Glow (June 25) – Watch the sun go down and enjoy the “glow” at The Cedar Rapids Country Club, listening to the tunes and time with friends and family. The balloons will enter before dusk and then raised up to glow.
Linn County Fair (June 26-30) – Head to Cedar Rapids for carnival rides, grandstand events, and livestock shows.
Trek Fest (June 28-29) – Held annually in Riverside, the “future birthplace” of Captain James T. Kirk, this themed event hosts contests, family friendly games, live music, a demolition derby, 5k race, ball tournament, parade, and more.
Red, White and Bluegrass Festival (July 3) – The 9th edition of this American Legion fundraiser will have food trucks, fireworks, kids games and great music.
4th Fest (July 3-4) – Coralville’s annual 4th of July celebration is a community tradition. The multi-day festival includes a 5K run / walk entertainment, food, a free concert on July 3, the area’s largest Independence Day parade, free family-friendly activities in the park, and fireworks on July 4.
Bourbon & Blues Fest (July 4-6) – Cedar Ridge Winery & Distillery hosts the 10th Annual Bourbon & Blues Festival, celebrating the anniversary of Iowa’s first bourbon since Prohibition! This 3-day festival features live blues music paired with a specialty BBQ menu & bourbon cocktails!
Iowa City Jazz Fest Festival (July 5-7) – Come down for a three-day weekend of live jazz performances, delicious dishes, and cap off the weekend with a full blown fireworks display over the University of Iowa’s Pentacrest lawn.
Cedar County Fair (July 10-14) – Head to Tipton for carnival rides, grandstand events, and livestock shows.
Heritage Days (July 11-13) –The 31st Annual Heritage Days Festival, Mount Vernon’s biggest summer festival, includes fireworks, old-fashioned carnival games, live performances, bingo, a beer tent, and a “mini-Olympics for kids.”
Blues & BBQ (July 13) – North Liberty is celebrating our 13th year of live music, mouthwatering barbecue, Iowa craft beer, and family fun.
Summer Family Art Workshop: Rockstar Wall Art (July 13) – National Czech and Slovak Museum & Library hosts a workshop for families! Do your walls look a little bare? Or maybe you need to update your art? Look no further! In this workshop, you could design a wooden guitar art piece to amp up your décor!
Kids’ Day at the Coralville Farmers’ Market (July 15) – Enjoy balloon artistry, fun games and activities, and live music.
Muscatine County Fair (July 17-21) – Head over to West Liberty for carnival rides, grandstand events, and livestock shows.
Diana Ross at Hancher (July 19) – From her early days as the leader of The Supremes to her landmark solo career, Ross helped shape the sound of popular music, changing the landscape and paving the way for contemporary music. Don’t miss the concert event of the summer at Hancher.
Sidewalk Sales (July 18-21) – Each year in July the sidewalks are filled with tables and tents for Downtown Iowa City’s Annual Sidewalk Sales, a tradition that began in 1968. Shoppers come to experience the three-day savings extravaganza, seeing the best of what downtown merchants have to offer.
Beef Days (July 19-20) – Solon hosts this two-day celebration with delicious foods, live music, run event, parade, and more.
Kinderfest (July 20) – Kinderfest in the Amana Colonies is dedicated to children and families. It’s all about the kids and the whole family having fun. There will be games and special events for children of all ages.
Johnson County Fair (July 21-24) – Iowa City hosts carnival rides, a tractor pull, great food, talent shows, livestock, and more.
Tiffun Creek Fest (July 24) – Kick off the school year with kid friendly fun, live music, fireworks, and more.
Morning Dew Art & Flea Festival (July 26-27) – Antiques, hand-made, jewelry, soaps, honey, wood work, paintings, drawings, crafting & more…the list goes on and on! Bloomsbury Farm will host their 3rd annual market festival featuring local and creative businesses and wine tastings.
Swisher Fun Days (July 26-27) – Swisher will host a kiddie tractor pull, human foosball tournament, petting zoo, inflatables, fireworks, and more.
Summer Family Free Day (July 27) – National Czech and Slovak Museum & Library hosts a free day of family fun! Video games, neon clothes, and revolution! The 1980s were a time of crazy change from increased technology to the fall of Communism. Stop by for a full day of family-friendly activities, tasty food, and music. We will even have a community art project with local artist, Thomas Agran on our replica Berlin Wall. Enjoy free admission for the whole family to the NCSML’s exhibit galleries. Come and have a gnarly time!
Mississippi Valley Fair (July 30-August 4) – Davenport will host agriculture, antiques, great food, live music, rides, and more!
Soul & Blues Fest (August 2-3) –The Soul & Blues Festival is a reworking of the former Iowa Soul Festival. Like its predecessor, the Soul & Blues Festival celebrates the music, dance, food, and art of the African and African-American communities. Enjoy live entertainment, soul food, art inspired by African American culture, Fun Stops for the kids, and much more!
Hoover Hometown Days (August 2-3) – West Branch celebrates with its most well-known resident, Herbert Hoover, with music, food, rides, and the world championships of Hoover-Ball.
Sweet Corn Feed at the Coralville Farmers’ Market (August 5) – Coralville’s annual event returns with delicious grilled sweet corn, award-winning BBQ and live bluegrass music.
Rock the Chalk (August 9) – Join MidWestOne for the fourth annual Rock the Chalk community art festival. Last year 60 community artists and over 7,000 community members celebrated community, art, music, and Iowa City.
Iowa State Fair (August 8-18) – The single largest event in the state of Iowa and one of the oldest and largest agricultural and industrial expositions in the country. Annually attracting more than a million people from all over the world, the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines has been ranked as one of the top events in the country.
Summer Family Art Workshop: Looking Sharp! (August 10) – National Czech and Slovak Museum & Library hosts a workshop for families! Are you in need of a rocking new bag? Don’t fret! In this class we will be making our own guitar-shaped bags!
North Liberty Porchfest (August 10) – North Liberty residents invite the corridor to the Arlington Ridge neighborhood for this event’s fourth year. Neighborhood porches became stages in a family-friendly afternoon of music, food, games, and great company- all for free!
Festival of the Arts (August 10) – Organized by the Amana Arts Guild, artisans display, sell and demonstrate their art to help bring it to life for the visitors. This 40-year-old event includes apple fritters made fresh while you watch and a free Children’s Corner.
Farm to Street Dinner (August 16) – The annual Farm to Street Dinner includes a multi-course meal prepared by Iowa City Downtown District chefs with food sourced from local producers. The goal of the Farm to Street Dinner is to bring together members of Iowa City’s diverse, vibrant community to share a table, a story, and a meal. Tickets go on sale July 1. he event
Taste of Iowa City (August 28) – The 12th Annual Taste celebrates the culinary diversity of Downtown and Northside restaurants and rewards the Iowa City community with sample portions from more than 40 menus!
What did we miss? What are your favorite summer events in the area?